You were excited when you bought that older home, but now you're looking at some significant repairs or remodeling. The techniques and building materials used when the house was constructed may cause you some challenges now. Here are some of the common issues you need to be aware of before you start demolishing any walls in the house for a remodeling project.
Prior to the 1970s, asbestos was used in home construction. It was used in drywall materials and paint. If you have a wall or ceiling covered with the old "popcorn" textured paint, you likely have asbestos in the room.
If your project doesn't disturb areas containing asbestos, you won't have a problem. Asbestos becomes dangerous when the fibers are released into the air and breathed into the lungs. A deadly form of lung cancer, called mesothelioma, develops and spreads to your other organs.
If you are unsure where the asbestos may be hiding in your house, have a licensed testing service come to the house and do an inspection. They will give you a report of all of the places where asbestos was used in the home construction. Besides paint and drywall, asbestos can be found in:
- ceiling tiles
- floor tiles
- hot water pipes
- drain pipes
If you want to work on an area that contains asbestos, you'll need the services of hazardous waste and removal companies, such as TransChem Environmental, that are certified to work with asbestos. Once they declare the area free of asbestos, you can begin your project.
Lead paint was also commonly used in home construction prior to 1970. If you disturb a wall painted with lead paint during your project, dust and flecks of paint can be breathed in and be absorbed into the blood. Children are especially vulnerable to lead paint, with developmental defects linked to the ingestion of lead.
Again, you'll need licensed and certified specialists to inspect your home for the presence of lead paint. If you'll be working in that area, you'll need to have the painted areas professionally removed before you can safely work on that room.
Homes older than 40 years may have electrical wiring that isn't up to the current building codes for safety. The outlets and switches may not be grounded, causing a shock hazard. The wiring may not be color-coded properly, making it difficult to identify the various wires. A very old home may have wire that was insulated with paper and now has bare spots where the metal wire is showing.
Replacing the wiring through the entire house is the right thing to do for safety reasons. But it will be a huge expense. Have an electrical contractor inspect the room in which your remodeling project is focused and have them recommend what changes should be done to the wiring. This way, you can make your home safer one room at a time.